DEPARTMENT OF SPANISH, PORTUGUESE
AND LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
COLOMBIA: VIOLENCE, PEACE PROCESSES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
BAINES WING, ROOM 1.16
6 DECEMBER 2006
Dr. Manuel Barcia Paz/Dr. R. Cleminson (University of Leeds)
Oliver Murphy (SOAS, London)
“The duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution.” The impact and
legacy of Che Guevara‟s Foco Theory, with special reference to guerrilla
warfare in Colombia.
Immortalised by the iconic photography of Alberto Diaz Gutiérrez, Ernesto
„Che‟ Guevara‟s image has been mass marketed through t-shirts, posters and
mugs and represents fashionable chic today as much as a “magical symbiosis
of symbol and zeitgeist” to the students of 1968 “Berkeley, Columbia and
However, behind the camouflage of revolutionary chic, there is a firm
ideological basis for Guevara‟s fame and a much darker side to his character.
This paper will investigate the impact and legacy of Guevara‟s ideas on the
use of armed struggle in Latin America, with special reference to the guerrillas
I will focus on an analysis of Guevara‟s Foco Theory of Guerrilla Warfare his
unorthodox Marxism and his philosophy of Revolutionary Internationalism.
The contemporary history of Colombia has been characterised to a great
extent by the existence of a number or armed paramilitaries and revolutionary
guerrilla groups, such as the FARC and the ELN. I will examine the extent to
which the philosophies of Che Guevara have impacted the development of
armed revolutionary struggle in Colombia.
I hope to conclude that the teachings of Che Guevara have had a tragic
legacy in both Latin America broadly and Colombia specifically. The flawed
practicalities the Foco Theory have more often than not ended in disaster, as
is evident in Guevara‟s personal experience in central Africa and Bolivia. In
reality, after his death revolutionary groups capitalised on Che‟s romantic
allure but rarely followed his teachings in an orthodox manner. Finally I will
highlight the critics of Che Guevara‟s revolutionary theory and contrast the
fact that where Guevarism fell short, revolutionary Maoism often flourished.
Charlotte Gill (University of Leeds)
The origin, development and role of FARC, ELN, and M-19 guerrilla groups in
the recent history of Colombia.
The FARC, ELN and M-19 have been the most dominant revolutionary
movements in Colombia over the past forty years. This paper will look at the
reasons behind their formation, the ideas and policy which shaped their
development and their position in Colombia today.
Paul Chambers, PhD candidate, Dept. of Peace Studies, University of
„Other‟ voices from Colombia: diversity in adversity
This talk will focus on the social movements for change that get „forgotten‟ in
dominant media coverage and scholarship such as the indigenous
movements, non-violent communities and women‟s groups. The mainstream
picture of Colombia presented to us here in the UK is dominated by the usual
suspects- the FARC, the State, the paramilitaries, the narcotraffickers and the
United States. Understanding of the Colombian conflict is constrained by this
mainstream framing. Other views can be provided by the remarkable Nasa-
Acin indigenous movement of Norte del Cauca and the Peace Community of
San José de Apartadó, amongst others. Following the talk, a DVD will be
shown on these subjects.